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Opinion

Volunteering can give insight to future internships and career opportunities

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November 18, 2015

In high school, I had been an occasional volunteer at a local non-profit’s office. This led to an internship offer at the beginning of the spring semester of my senior year at that very same office where I have grown to quite enjoy the professional relationships I have developed during my time on the job. This opportunity has been extraordinary in the development of my professional portfolio; leading to further opportunities for internships and even job offers. I am grateful for the excellent experience I have worked hard for, and the enjoyment I have gotten out of a job well done.

Volunteering is often a dreaded requirement, or even a commitment you make on behalf of your commitment to an organization, such as for a fraternity or sorority, where you are required to complete a certain amount of hours to be deemed successful. Your success may not be found in your volunteer efforts however, it should be a valuable asset in your efforts to find a rewarding and lifelong career. Volunteering is by no means a guarantee in either your career success or the road you take to find a job; however, it is a superb guarantee that you will find your preferred work environment as well as the interests you wish to pursue. Maybe more so you will find out what you hate during your time as a volunteer, as that will lead you to find a better internship in the future that very well could guarantee you a job. For instance, if you realize that the time commitment your boss demands of you is incompatible with the lifestyle you wish to live, it is best to find a new opportunity prior to finding yourself “stuck” in a career that will not be compatible with your interests. Careers are something you want to enjoy for the rest of your life, not something you spend your whole life searching for.

If you have already experienced a plethora of internships, and still have found no success, volunteering may be a new way to approach your career search. It’s not necessarily the first step you must take in the path to your career, in fact most advisors probably wouldn’t even think to suggest such a thing. That being said, it certainly is an opportunity to be more successful than your peers. If you find an opportunity related to your career field, you will be able to enhance your resume by amplifying what you have done for the organization, or it could simply be a testament of your character to a potential employer.

In all cases, volunteering for the right cause will be an extraordinary experience for personal growth and career development. Consider the opportunities it could offer you, while also noting the benefits it will present to those you assist. Volunteering doesn’t simply have to be a once a year gig. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

Melanie Meyers is a student at UW-River Falls.